Negotiation discussions between Peel Ports, owner and operator of the Port of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, and the British trade union Unite have ended in chaos once more, and another two-week strike began yesterday (24 October).
On the one hand, the port owner claims that Unite has rejected an improved pay offer, while on the other hand, the union says that Peel Ports' board continues to refuse to give workers a decent pay rise while the company's profits soar.
Peel Ports chief operating officer David Huck stated, "It's hugely disappointing that Unite has staged yet another outdated show-of-hands mass meeting which has, very predictably, failed to support our improved 11% pay offer. This is the highest percentage increase of any port group in the UK by far and would see average annual pay rise to £43,275 (around US$49,000)."
Huck said that Peel Ports had improved its offer six times, and Unite has consistently blocked the involvement of the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to help arbitrate.
ACAS is a non-departmental public body of the UK Government with the purpose of improving organizations and working life through the promotion and facilitation of strong industrial relations practices.
"The fact that they [Unite] have refused to give all employees an independent postal vote on this 11% offer, free from the pressures and undue influence of an outdated show-of-hands, is very telling. Our feedback from many, many workers is that they are in favor of accepting but are too reluctant to do so in a mass meeting," pointed out Huck.
On the other hand, Unite's story is different. In its latest announcement, the British union said it has, in good faith, been at the negotiating table with management to thrash out a deal, which the company has reneged on.
"It was believed the deal would be accepted by the workforce. However, any chance to halt the industrial action has been lost after Peel Ports' board intervened to stop the deal, which had been agreed in principle, from going ahead," noted the union.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham confirmed, "The Unite team negotiated in good faith with Peel Ports. But the talks ended in farce, with the deal agreed between Unite and senior management being pulled by the board. Strike action by our members and with the full support of Unite will go ahead."
He went on to add that "Peel Ports' untrustworthy behavior and its attempts to threaten the workforce are only escalating the dispute."
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